Lakeridge moves into the Final Four as it continues its state title defense

by: MATTHEW SHERMAN - Michael Ashworth and Austin Gregg celebrate a goal in the Pacers' win at home last week.
For three quarters, the quarterfinal match-up between the last two state champions in boys lacrosse lived up to its billing entirely.

Lakeridge and Lincoln battled back and forth in an entertaining game that saw very little separation between the two powers.

However, the Pacers turned a contest that was anyone's game into a laugher, putting together perhaps its best stretch of lacrosse of the season to date, blitzing the Cardinals in the final period for a 12-5 victory.

Trailing at the break, Lakeridge outscored Lincoln 9-1 in the second half and held the opposition without a goal for the final 22 minutes of play.

The Cardinals got on the board first, scoring 90 seconds into the contest. Both teams traded early possessions and didn't rush things on offense.

Lakeridge would tie the game on a shot from Holden Catlett and, less than a minute later, John Finegan notched his first goal of the game to put the Pacers up.

Lincoln would knot the score again before Finegan made a pretty pass to JR McLaughlin right in front of the net for another tally.

Lakeridge led 3-2 after the opening quarter but then fell flat.

The pace of the game slowed down in the second period and no penalties were called early in the contest.

Lakeridge controlled possession in the second quarter but couldn't extend its lead. The Cardinals then had a goal disallowed with three minutes left in the half before picking up some momentum.

The Cardinals tied the game on a breakaway and then, following a sloppy turnover, Lincoln took the lead with just 13 seconds left in the quarter.

However, Lakeridge was able to quickly regroup after halftime.

“We were just too tight. We needed to go out and play and, once we did that, we were pretty tough to beat,” coach Curt Sheinin said.

Finegan would tie the game on a deep shot. Lincoln quickly countered but the Pacers would tie the game again 30 seconds later.

Michael Ashworth got free and found the back of the net. Lincoln's goalie came up with a pair of terrific saves to keep Lakeridge off the board but the Pacers would take the lead for good on another shot by Finegan.

Lakeridge would control possession from that point on. Both Finegan and Austin Gregg did a terrific job on face-offs, winning more than 70 percent on the evening.

The Pacers led 7-5 at the end of the third quarter and then kicked their game into high gear.

Lakeridge had the ball for the vast majority of the final quarter, continuing to stymy Lincoln on face-offs and ground balls.

Lakeridge rattled off five unanswered goals and the Cardinals could never close the floodgates once they opened.

The Pacers' defense also did a fantastic job, giving up very few chances in the final quarter and a half.

“It was a confidence issue. We knew we could play with them and I was pleased that we played the way we were capable,” Sheinin said.

The Pacers advanced to the Final Four and took on No. 1 OES Wednesday night, looking to get back to the state title game for a chance to repeat as champions.

With a win Wednesday, Lakeridge would face the winner of West Linn and Jesuit Saturday at 7 p.m. at Lake Oswego High School.

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